Music Break: Ten Favorite Oscar-Winning Film Scores

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The Oscars is just a week away, folks! Well, a week ago, as I was listening to 99.5 Classical MPR they were playing my favorite score from Titanic and I knew I had to make a post of it. For this post I’m focusing more on the instrumental themes instead of the songs, hence my exclusion of Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, etc. Y’know, I’m still surprised that some of my all time fave scores did NOT win an Oscar, i.e. Gone with the Wind, Superman, Indiana Jones, Gladiator, The Hours, and The Passion of the Christ, just to name a few. Heck, the one I considered one of the greatest scores ever, Somewhere in Time, wasn’t even nominated! But its composer John Barry had been nominated six times. John Williams, the reigning champion of the most-nominated composer ever with 44 (he beat Alfred Newman who had 43 noms) have made some truly iconic scores, but my faves did not win, so I only included the one I love the most.

Thanks to Wikipedia for making it easy for me to see the winners all the way from the 1930s. Now, I’ve seen most of the films the scores appear in, with a couple of exceptions (Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves). So in any case, here are my Top 10 Fave Oscar-Winning Scores, in order of release:

BEN-HUR – Miklós Rózsa

Ever since I saw this as a young girl with my late mother, few films have touched me as much as Ben-Hur did and Rozsa’s score is one of the reasons it’s such an enduring epic.

 

Lawrence of Arabia – Maurice Jarre

I actually just saw this film two years ago but I’ve heard the soundtrack years before and it’s remained one of my favorites!

 

Out of Africa – John Barry

Ahhh John Barry… nobody could create a more lush and devastatingly gorgeous music that pierces your soul. I haven’t seen the film yet but I’m actually afraid the music would actually eclipse the film itself.

 

The Little Mermaid – Alan Menken

I grew up listening to all Disney Princess songs and I somehow identified with Ariel’s loneliness and her yearning to belong in someone else’s world. Mr. Menken is an absolute musical genius in that he somehow could capture the sentiment of her character.

I also have a special fondness for the Caribbean-influenced style of Under the Sea. I LOVE the little crab Sebastian so much I actually bought the tiny stuffed animal, and I’m still using The Little Mermaid‘s beach towel to this day 😀

 

Schindler’s List – John Williams

Perhaps one of the most hauntingly-beautiful music ever conceived. I never NOT tear up whenever I listen to this. Itzhak Perlman‘s violin solo adds so much to the piece, making it ever so unforgettable.

 

Beauty & The Beast – Alan Menken

I was just listening to this the other day and out of all the music in the wonderful album, this has to be my favorite. Yes, it even beats the more popular Tale as old as time. The scene itself of the Beast’s transformation is beautifully-done and it always packs such an emotional punch.

 

Dances with Wolves – John Barry

Another one by John Barry, can’t you tell I absolute LOVE this man’s work? I really should see this film already, as I’ve listened to the soundtrack more often than I can count.

 

Titanic – James Horner

THIS is the piece that was played in Classical MPR on my way home from work last week. I’m glad they chose to play Take Her to Sea Mr Murdock instead of the massively popular My Heart Will Go On. I always remember the first time I beheld the majestic ocean liner on the big screen and there’s a lump in my throat when that music came on. There’s such an energy to it, a joyful optimism of that day that’s so infectious, which makes the doom fate of Titanic later on in the film even more heart-wrenching.

 

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King – Howard Shore

I really think the soundtrack of the entire trilogy is simply exceptional. It’s just as epic as Peter Jackson’s creation and it really transport you into the realm of Middle Earth!

 

The Artist – Ludovic Bource

The strength of a lot of silent films is the soundtrack and The Artist is no exception. I love most of the tracks but this waltz is my absolute favorite. I LOVE Bérénice Bejo in the role, this music is as pretty and playful as Peppy herself, there’s such a wistful nostalgic vibe that takes you back to those Chaplin classics.


Hope you enjoyed this week’s music break! Which of these Oscar-winning score(s) is your favorite?

Music Break: 5 Great Themes from 5 Favorite Action Flicks

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As an action movies fanatic, I also love the music that accompanies them. Here’s a list of some great themes from action movies throughout the years.

Black Rain
Chase to the Steel Plant by Hans Zimmer

Hans Zimmer has been the go to guy for composing big Hollywood tent pole pictures within the last 15 years or so. But he started out composing small movies and this was his first gig at composing a budget Hollywood film. It’s also his first collaboration with Ridley Scott. In this underrated buddy cop action thriller, his style really shows and I love this film’s soundtrack. Especially this particular track, it’s from a scene where two of the main characters chasing a suspect that leads to a shootout. The music works perfectly with the scene and I always get goose bumps when I watch this scene and hear the theme.

Heat
Unused Ending score by Elliot Goldenthal

I thought Michael Mann’s Heat is a nearly flawless masterpiece and the music by Elliot Goldenthal is just as good. To me the music in the film is timeless, you can still watch the film today and never thought it’s from the 90s. This track was supposed to be used at the film’s ending scene but apparently Mann wasn’t too thrilled about it and decided to use Moby’s God Moving Over the face of the Waters track instead. This of course angered Goldenthal and he and Mann didn’t work together again until Public Enemies. I love Moby’s theme but I prefer this one over the one that was used in the final fim.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Song for Jesse by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

Technically this film isn’t an “action” picture because there’s only one shootout scene but I thought it’s one of the best westerns ever made and quite underrated. The score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis was just stunning. There are many great tracks from the soundtrack but this one is my absolute favorite. The whole film felt like a dream and this theme enhances the mood.

Sunshine
Surface of the Sun by John Murphy

I wish more Hollywood directors would hire John Murphy to compose their films, he’s one of my favorites, I thought his work in Mann’s Miami Vice was excellent. He and Danny Boyle has collaborated in many films together. This track from Sunshine has been used in many movie trailers and it’s a great one.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
We Have All the Time In World by John Barry

I can’t leave a James Bond flick out of a list about action pictures. John Barry’s excellent and timeless theme for one of my favorite Bond flicks. I can listen to this theme and the song by Louis Armstrong over and over again. I know for years many so called Bond fans hated this flick, but ever since Christopher Nolan said it’s his favorite Bond film, they have changed their tune about the film now. I’ve always been a fan and had Connery returned as 007 or Timothy Dalton accepted the role, it would have a been perfect Bond film to me. George Lazenby wasn’t bad as Bond but I couldn’t really accept him playing a super spy. But Diana Riggs was an awesome Bond girl.

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These are some of my favorite action themes, feel free to share yours in the comments section.

Music Break: Top 10 Favorite Bond Songs

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This Music Break is so long overdue! I listen to basically two music genres regularly: classical and soundtrack. And growing up the James Bond soundtrack got a lot of play in my house as my two brothers love ’em too and my penchant for them continue to this day. Over the years I don’t know how many Bond CDs I’ve bought as they keep updating their collections [just like they do with their box-sets, heh]. From the classically-tinged ones to the more contemporary sounds, I love most of the Bond songs from the 23 films, with only a few exceptions (i.e. Die Another Day by Madonna, ugh). This list consist of the Bond songs, not themes by John Barry, David Arnold, etc. So far, my absolute favorite Bond theme is City of Lovers from Casino Royale that I featured a while back.

The other day I was thinking how it’s been ages since I made a Bond-related post. Well, inspired by last Monday’s birthday of the jazz great Louis Armstrong, as well as my pal Michael’s Songs on My iPod series, post #6 specifically, it’s time to reveal my top 10 favorites! I actually made a top 5 back in 2010, but I decided to expand my list to 10. So here goes (in order of release):

1. From Russia with Love (Matt Monro) – From Russia with Love 1963

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2. We Have All the Time in the World (Louis Armstrong) – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service 1969

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3. Moonraker (Shirley Bassey) – Moonraker 1979

4. For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton) – For Your Eyes Only 1981

5. All Time High (Rita Coolidge) – Octopussy 1983

6. The Living Daylights (A-Ha) –The Living Daylights 1987

7. Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crowe) – Tomorrow Never Dies 1997

8. The World Is Not Enough (Garbage) – The World Is Not Enough 1999

9. You Know My Name (Chris Cornell) – Casino Royale (2006)

10. Skyfall (Adele) – Skyfall (2012)


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey) – Goldfinger (1964)
  • Nobody Does It Better (Carly Simon) – The Spy Who Loved Me 1977
  • Goldeneye (Tina Turner) – Goldeneye 1995
  • License to Kill (Gladys Knight) – License to Kill 1989

So are you a fan of any of these Bond songs? Which one(s) are YOUR favorite?

Music Break: Casino Royale Score (City of Lovers)

Happy Thursday everyone! It’s been over a month since my last music break, and I definitely could use one today.

As a preview to our monthly Bond post coming next week, I feel like highlighting one of my favorite Bond scores. I’ve posted my top five Bond title songs, but as far as main scores go, this one is definitely on the top of my list. So much so that it’s one of the twelve piece of music I wish I have with me if I were to be stranded on a desert island. I might as well bring the Blu-ray too, it’s not just a great Bond film, it’s a great film, period.

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The whole soundtrack is splendid, but City of Lovers is by far my favorite. It’s a love theme of sort as it’s played during the scene when Bond and Vesper arrives in Venice. It’s an impossibly gorgeous day and Bond has just typed in his resignation. He’s a man in love. But we know that such blissful state is short-lived and there is something hauntingly melancholic in this score… yet the soothing, elegant strings has that buoyant effect that gets me every time.


What I love about this score is that it sounds a lot like the classic John Barry’s Bond themes of the 60s and 70s, but there’s something fresh and edgy about ’em. So it’s no surprise that composer David Arnold is apparently a big fan of the Bond franchise, AND of Barry’s work. In fact, it’s Barry who recommended Arnold to Barbara Broccoli for Tomorrow Never Dies, having been impressed with his Bond-related project called Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project. (per Wiki) Since then the English composer has worked on the scores for two other Pierce Brosnan’s Bond movies, this one and Quantum of SolaceI do think this is the best and most memorable soundtrack since Barry left the franchise.

I’m looking forward to what Thomas Newman will bring to the table with Skyfall. He’s worked numerous times with director Sam Mendes in American Beauty, Road to Perdition and Revolutionary Road. Meanwhile, Arnold will be working on the score for the opening ceremony for this year’s Summer Olympics in London.


Are you a fan of Casino Royale‘s soundtrack? Please share YOUR favorite Bond score.

Favorite movie music – my top twenty list

 

Photo Courtesy of Pixelcrave
Orchestra at Piazza San Marco, Venezia – photo courtesy of Pixelcrave.net

F. Gary Gray, Law Abiding Citizen‘s director recently tweeted, “My mtg with the composer Brian Tyler went really well. He just gets it. Music is so important, it can ruin your movie if it’s not right.”

I couldn’t agree more. Music can make or break a movie. Not only does it create the mood and ambience of a film, it’s also what gives ‘life’ to certain key scenes, or an entire film for that matter. Nothing else has the same power to evoke emotion as music, and some directors know this to heart. Steven Spielberg for one, who frequently works with one of Hollywood’s greatest composers John Williams, skillfully uses music to add more oomphs to a lot of his films. Jurrasic Park, Schindler’s List, Indiana Jones, E.T., to name a few, all of those scores create a lasting impression in the audience’s mind.

Some movies and their music score are inseparable, if you leave every scene in a movie the exact same, but swap the music, it’ll be a different film altogether. I can’t imagine watching Somewhere in Time without the lush Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini rendition by John Barry. Even though the piece was written back in the early 1930s, I always think of the movie every time I heard that music! This is also the case where the score is far superior than the film itself. It lingers with you long after I’m done watching it and one I can listen to over and over again.

Soundtracks are getting more common these days, and those can be very effective as well. Instead of hiring a composer to do a custom theme, they’d use pre-recorded songs they deem fitting for a specific movie. I’m going to break down my list to two different categories as theme songs and soundtracks are kind of a different animal. So without further ado, here are my two lists of favorites:

FILM SCORES:
1. Gladiator (Hans Zimmer)
2. Somewhere in Time (John Barry)
3. Phantom of the Opera (Andrew Lloyd Webber)
4. Batman Begins/The Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer)
5. Sabrina (John Williams)
6. Casino Royale (David Arnold)
7. Out of Africa (John Barry)
8. The Lord of the Rings (Howard Shore)
9. Braveheart (James Horner)
10. Sense & Sensibility (Patrick Doyle)

SOUNDTRACKS:
1. P.S. I Love You
2. Sleepless in Seattle
3. Return to Me
4. Notting Hill
5. The Bodyguard
6. Moulin Rouge
7. St. Elmo’s Fire
8. Flashdance
9. Waiting to Exhale
10. Dirty Dancing

Thanks to my friend Scot (with one ‘t’) who suggested this trivia:

Do you know the name of the songs played in the Elephant song medley that Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman sung in Moulin Rouge!?